Diversity and decolonisation in the English curriculum

Oct 7, 2020

This is definitely high on my priority list at the moment. Glad to hear it! While calls for a more diverse curriculum are not new, events this year have brought the issue back sharply into focus. Let’s not lose this window of opportunity to make a meaningful, lasting change to our English curricula, embedding diversity, not simply paying lip-service to the notion that we should.

I agree wholeheartedly, but feel a little bit swamped by the details. Can you help unpack it for me?  The issue, as Melody Triumph from The Black Curriculum highlights, is the general “absence of black narratives in the classroom,” and the fact that when BAME voices are heard, it is too often peripherally, or as victims.  As Bennie Kara asks, does your English curriculum include “positive, powerful representation of BAME characters and culture?”

OK, I clearly have work to do. Any suggestions on the practical changes I can make?  We do! Start by exploring the texts you study, the books available to children in school, and those on their recommended reading lists, and asking if many of them meet Bennie Kara’s criteria. It may be fewer than you think: in a 2019 study, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) found that only 7% of children’s books published in the UK in 2018 featured BAME characters, and only 4% included a BAME main protagonist.

Wow, OK, I may need to buy some new books. But which ones? Fear not, help is at hand. Take a look at these lists and resources for ideas:

You may also like to explore the Black Curriculum which offers a diverse curriculum for use across KS2. It aims to incorporate year-round “black narratives, black stories and black history, whether it’s music history, social history, economic and cultural history” into the curriculum.

In a nutshell… Ensure your English curriculum is relevant to the diverse world we’re living in, and is making a positive contribution to the future.

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Language Trends 2020

We summarise the findings and recommendations from the Language Trends 2020 report, and highlight what they mean for primary language teaching.

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